Morphological analysis of 'unlawfulness'


How would you give the internal structure of the word 'unlawfulness'?

My attempt:
un - law - ful - ness
prefix - noun - suffix - suffix

Internal structure:
law + ful > Adjective
un + law + ful > Adjective
un + law + ful + ness > Noun

Will that be correct? Should I split 'lawful' into 'law + ful' so there's four morphemes in the word or keep it as three morphemes? If 'lawful' is split, then is the -ful counted as a suffix or an infix?


Posted 2014-10-23T19:21:17.587

Reputation: 11

ful is a distinct morpheme. Sorrowful. Mournful. Joyful. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2014-10-23T19:27:23.940

-ful turns the noun into an adjective and -ness turns that adjective into an abstract noun. -un, of course, is "not". The-behavior-that-lacks-the-characteristic-of-being-within-the-law. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2014-10-23T19:35:53.737

You can complete the breakdown by adding the Adverb form. un·lawful·ly adv. un·lawful·ness n.

– Wichita Steve – 2014-10-24T02:08:03.390



There are four morphemes. Law is the only free morpheme of the group; -ful (lawful) is a suffix, un- (unlawful) is a prefix, -ness (unlawfulness) is a suffix.

This is true even though lawful does not mean exactly what one might expect from law and -ful.


Posted 2014-10-23T19:21:17.587

Reputation: 4 098


Yes, you have it right. There are four morphemes, of which the outer three are affixes:

[ un- [ law -ful ] ] -ness

morphology tree

In order, the affixes are ① the suffix -ful, ② the prefix un-, and ③ the suffix -ness.

There are no infixes here.


Posted 2014-10-23T19:21:17.587

Reputation: 30 097